“I feel alone and I’m afraid sometimes.”
She was only 23 or 24, sorting out my garden-ravaged nails.
I didn’t know her, this young Vietnamese woman having her first overseas adventure and working at a relative’s nail bar.
I’m hardly the font of all knowledge and my advice about most things is that life is for living, so don’t play it too safe – better to make mistakes than have regrets when it’s too late to do anything about them.
Perhaps I seemed motherly to this young woman, a shocking thought, for in my mind’s eye I am still 18.
My own mother warned me this would happen when she was in her 70s.
“Sometimes I look in the mirror and can’t believe that’s me. I don’t feel any different than when I was a teenager.”
And sometimes she acted that way, bless. But that’s another story.
I told the young woman things would get better.
That when I had moved from Minnesota to Honolulu and then to New Zealand I had no friends, no money, and was terrified.
That it took months to find my first post-college job in Honolulu, an innocent place in the early 1980s when Waikiki consisted of shadowy bars and tourist shops selling leis and muumuus.
Today I don’t recognise the glossy parade of high end stores in Waikiki.
I liked Waikiki better back then.
But I was lonely.
Making true friends takes time, and I missed mine.
If I could give my youthful self, and my daughter, and the young woman at the nail bar some advice, it would be to work two jobs in a new town instead of sitting alone night after night.
Meet more people.
Make more friends.
Have more money.
Spend less – save more, so you have choices.
Stop pining and worrying.
Live in the moment.
Have more fun.
Forgive yourself for missteps and exploratory sins. No one in Stearns County will ever know.
Things will work out fine.
Get out there and live.
For Lily Pearl
Photo Mr Doomits, istock